New Construction upturn, rent-to-own housing, and your brackets
Plenty of economists and executives have fallen on their faces predicting a resurgence in housing in the past five years. But while the jury is still very much out for the overall market, there is reason to feel hopeful about new construction.
Bank of America says it has begun a pilot program offering some of its mortgage customers who are facing foreclosure a chance to stay in their homes by becoming renters instead of owners.
In today’s technological age, do business cards still serve a purpose? The Los Angeles Times thinks not. Younger people are shunning paper business cards as lame and wasteful and social media is the new replacement.
About 85 million people manage their professional networks with LinkedIn. Some 77 million smartphone users have downloaded the Bump app, which allows them to bump their phones together and instantly exchange contact information. Others carry a personalized quick-response code that smartphones can scan like a hyperlink. And, of course, there’s always Facebook, email and digital business cards. If they do take a paper card, some said they use a smartphone app to snap a picture of it and instantly digitize the card’s information. Then they toss it into the nearest trash can.
It’s something to consider when prospecting Generation Y clients.
Prepare yourself: on July 1, as many as 8 million college students will see their interest rates on federally subsidized student loans double, from 3.4% to 6.8%.
Are you more worried about your basketball brackets than your bottom line this month? March Madness can take over your life (and work) if you let it. Lifehack lists 5 tips to enjoy the madness while getting your work done.
So you undoubtedly heard the fairy tale about the turnip princess as a child. Or the one where the maiden escapes the witch by transformering herself into a pond. No? Well, probably that’s because researchers in Germany have discovered a trove of over 500 new fairy tales locked away in a vault in Bavaria. They were gathered in the mid-19th century by a contemporary of the brothers Grimm from the folktales of Bavarian peasants. Widely admired in his day, the collector Von Schönwerth’s work has mostly faded into obscurity. With this new find maybe we’ll be sharing the tale of the miserly farmer and a money-mill.
Getting a Mac for less, headshot tips, and half-price Amazon gift cards
Craving a Mac but don’t want to pay the full price? If you are willing to have a refurbished product from Apple, you can get a price cut. MacMall sells products at a slight discount, and you can also get an 8% discount if you are a student or teacher through the Apple Store for Education. You can also recycle your old Apple products and get a gift card for new ones. I submitted my iPad v 1, but $150 isn’t enough to make me trade it in on an upgrade.
And if a new iPad is on it’s way to you today, Time has a round up of the best apps to try.
Whereas books–novels, biographies–will live on for a long time in electronic form, I don’t think the traditional encyclopedia will, even if for now Britannica will survive as a website. The whole idea of a top-down, orchestrated, unified compendium of knowledge makes less and less sense in a world where fact and analysis can arise in a bottom-up way and be organized by technological tools for your edification. (I’m not talking just about Wikipedia, which actually has its top-down elements, but about the whole internet.)
Most REALTORS have a headshot taken at some point. But unless you’re using a pro, how can you ensure that you’re not going to end up looking like stone or with ‘deer in the headlights’ face? The NYT Gagetwise blog gives six tips from a headshot expert to achieve better portraits.
Amazon offering $10 gift card for $5 next week.
Celebrating the Association Executives Committee’s 100th birthday
This weekend, REALTOR® association executives (AEs) from around the country will gather at the 2012 A.E. Institute for a few days of networking, professional development programs, and a chance to learn about key industry trends and issues.
As it happens, this year’s conference takes place in Louisville, KY, which makes it a particularly auspicious occasion: 100 years ago in the same city, REALTOR® AEs gathered together for the very first time.
Members of the National Association met in Louisville on June 20, 1912, for their fifth annual convention. At this convention, the local and state association secretaries (as AEs were called at the time) for the first time had been allowed two hours to themselves. Around thirty secretaries participated, with R. Bruce Douglas (executive secretary of the National Association from 1909-1911) serving as chairman. The group spent their first hour at the Hotel Watterson, dining on chicken broth, boiled halibut and vanilla ice cream and listening to presentations on topics that would be familiar to AEs today: how to attract new members, ways to get members to attend regular meetings, managing the MLS, and working with the media.
The secretaries spent their second hour together enjoying the Ohio River views aboard the steamboat Constitution. The group decided to create a formal organization for board secretaries, and even crafted a constitution while sailing on the Constitution. The stated purpose of the new Association of Secretaries of the National Association of Real Estate Exchanges was “to afford for its members better opportunity for mutual acquaintance and to hold an annual conference.” Dues were set at $1 per year.
Since that day in June 1912, the association executives’ group has been a constant and influential presence, strengthening ties between the local, state, and national REALTOR® associations. The organization formed in 1912 has gone through many changes over the years, becoming the Secretaries’ Division in 1923, then the Executive Officers Council in 1958, and finally the Association Executives Committee (AEC) in 1993.
In 1921, NAR president Irving B. Hiett dropped in for a visit at the Secretaries’ annual meeting. “I was rather surprised to find the things they discussed there,” Hiett later reported to NAR’s Executive Committee, “surprised at the interest they were taking in the things that are of value not only to their local boards but to the Association as a whole. I want to tell you that I think [the Secretaries’ group] is one of the most valuable assets we have.”
Here’s to a very happy 100th birthday for the AEC, and many more to come.
The New iPad, the draw of tiny home photos, and don’t forget to change your clocks
Apple launches its new iPad. Take away: a great update. It represents a much, much greater jump above the iPad 2 than the iPad 2 was over the original.
A group of students and a few young alumni from Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science designed a tiny zero net-energy house to teach people about sustainability, living simply and creatively using the space one has. Construction began in the spring, and the team intends to complete the home by Sept. 1.
And if you find the word ‘tiny’ in the previous post oddly compelling, you’re not alone. The Atlantic Monthly explores why we are drawn to pictures of tiny homes but have less interest in palatial mansions. Reasons vary: a desire to simplify, anti-consumerism, their ‘cuteness’, and people who like the Swiss army knife challenge of getting it all to fit.
Daylight Saving Time begins this weekend, so remember to move your clocks ahead 1 hour. AccuWeather looks at the history of this time change, who follows it (and who doesn’t) and why you should also change the batteries in your smoke alarm.
More and more credit cards are coming with embedded RFID chips so you can just wave your card at a terminal to use it. There is a risk though. Watch a local news special investigation (don’t you just love those?) of the problems with these cards.
What’s my password? How much is this condo worth? Where are my Thin Mints?!
By far the most frequently asked question asked by members is the ubiquitous ‘What’s my username and password?’ We cringe whenever we see that the answer is ‘password’ or ‘letmein’. Even if you have a little more complicated login, it’s not very hard for today’s powerful computers to worm their way into your system. Take a moment to review your passwords. Are all of them basically the same? If people got your realtor.org password would they have access to your bank account?
Warren Buffett says along with equities, single-family homes are a very attractive investment right now.
As an agent or broker, you know it’s important to ‘know your market’. Be up to speed on deals in the area, what places are selling for, what buyers are looking for, etc. But not only is it important to know all this, it’s important to let clients and potential clients know that you know. The New York Times has an interesting article on an amateur appraiser who turned his passion for pre-war apartments on the Upper West Side into a part time career as an agent. His social media posts, which started out as a hobby, have brought him business.
Would you prefer to live in a community where you had to drive everywhere for everything, or would you prefer to live in a community where you could walk, ride a bicycle, take public transportation, or drive to get to where you want to go? While you may prefer the latter, Congress is only funding the former. The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee voted on February 2 to eliminate funding for nonmotorized transportation (e.g., bike paths and sidewalks) from the federal transportation bill working its way through Congress.
Is ivy on your house a menace or a protector? According to Oxford University, ivy does not crack bricks and mortar, but does protect the building against airborne pollution, and creates a microclimate that shelters the building from freeze-thaw damage.
For a long stretch of the 20th century, Bell Labs was the most innovative scientific organization in the world. The New York Times has an interesting article highlighting their remarkable achievements. The accompanying timeline graph visually it out.
Companies are always trying to get employees to eat better and exercise. They know that healthy employees are happy employees and more productive employees. But how do you get those holdouts? ‘Gamification‘ – the process of using game thinking and game mechanics to engage audiences and solve problems - is the answer for some.
Are you desperate for a Thin Mint or a Tagalong but haven’t seen any Girl Scouts selling cookies in your neighborhood? Fortunately, the Girl Scouts have created a free Cookie Locator App to quench those cookie cravings and support a worthy organization at the same time. Thank god mine arrived today!